Music

‘Just Press Play’: Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter’ Album, Reviewed by TikTok Star Jake Shane

Jake Shane, who has nearly 3 million followers on TikTok thanks to his viral comedy videos under the handle @octopusslover8, is reviewing albums for Billboard with exclusive new essays and videos. Find his first Billboard album review below, for Beyoncé’s just-released Cowboy Carter album.

“People don’t make albums anymore,” Beyoncé declared in her 2013 HBO documentary Life Is But a Dream. “They just try to sell a bunch of lil quick singles. And they burn out, and they put out a new one, and they burn out, and they put out a new one.” She was right, finding a real “album” is becoming scarcer in the age of streaming, where songs with shorter run lengths are viewed as more “streamable.” A real album might be hard to find, but luckily we have Beyoncé, and boy does Beyoncé make a good one.

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Beyoncé’s eighth studio album, the country-influenced and genre-defying Cowboy Carter, is a tour de force and yet another example of Beyoncé’s innate ability to put together an album. Much like Renaissance, most of the songs blend beautifully into each other, almost forcing the modern listener to hear the album in order — exactly how Beyoncé intended it. This is especially notable in the jump from the “Dolly P” interlude to Beyoncé’s stunning reworking of Parton’s classic “Jolene.” Instead of Parton’s infamous “begging” of Jolene to not take her man, Beyoncé changes the narrative — she’s not begging you; she’s warning you. It’s a perfect rendition of the classic song in 2024. We’ve heard a million and one versions of superstars “begging” for the villainous Jolene to not take their man, but Beyoncé isn’t most superstars, and she’s not going to beg; she’s going to tell you. 

Beyoncé follows up her rendition of “Jolene” with perhaps the most cinematic moment on the album — track 11, “Daughter,” is a scorching country ballad-turned-Italian opera that finds our protagonist setting the scene of smoke, bodies and, of course in true Beyoncé fashion, bloodstained custom couture.

Beyoncé’s duet with Miley Cyrus, “II Most Wanted,” finds the two stars going line for line, Miley’s rasp perfectly matching Beyoncé’s powerhouse vocals. Beyoncé and Cyrus’ harmonies flowing, they insist “I’ll be your shotgun rider, till the day I die.” The two superstars might be singing about their respective romantic partners, but it’s just as easy to believe they’re singing about each other. As they lyrically and sonically ride side by side, their chemistry is tangible and undeniable. 

If “II Most Wanted” weren’t proof enough of Beyoncé’s undeniable talent for a cohesive duet, look no further than “Just for Fun,” which features country star Willie Jones. Another standout is “Levii’s Jeans” featuring Post Malone, who delivers some of the cleanest vocals of his career — setting the scene for a hot summer day in the South, where we find our superstar wearing a perfectly fitted pair of Levi’s. 

It would be remiss to talk about Cowboy Carter without mentioning Beyoncé’s cover of The Beatles classic “Blackbird,” which she aptly restyled as “Blackbiird.” The cover features rising country star Tanner Adell. Once again, we find our superstar making an already-classic song her own entirely. It’s a pin-drop moment on the album — talking about it almost feels like I’m taking away from the time you could spend listening to it instead.

Beyoncé said, “This ain’t a country album, it’s a Beyoncé album.” And while Beyoncé has never been wrong, she has also never been so right. “Genres are a funny little concept,” Linda Martell (country star and trailblazer) states at the beginning of “Spaghettii” — almost laughing at every single Beyoncé detractor who questioned how the superstar would fit into the country genre. Country? Genre? This is Beyoncé. Just press play.

@billboard

BILLBOARD FRIDAY MUSIC GUIDE: @Jake Shane reviews @Beyoncé’s #CowboyCarter 🎵⬇️ “Beyoncé said, this is not a country album, it’s a ‘Beyoncé album.’ And while Beyoncé has never been wrong, she has also never been so right.” Check out the full guest album review at Billboard.com ✔️ #albumreview #newmusic #billboard #beyonce #texasholdem #jakeshane

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